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Leaving an abusive relationship is a journey filled with emotional turmoil, fear, and uncertainty. Yet, for countless people, it’s an act of incredible courage and self-preservation.
While the decision to break free from an abusive partner is undoubtedly monumental, it can be even more daunting when you have no or little money, casting a shadow of doubt over the possibility of escape.
The ultimate guide to leaving an abusive relationship with no money is designed to support you so that you are able to escape your abusive relationship as smoothly and safely as possible.
In the United States, it is estimated that over 10 million women and men experience domestic violence each year.
In fact, one out of every four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. Many people are bound to these relationships because they don’t have enough money and feel that they cannot afford to leave.
Financial abuse is often a component of abusive relationships, and a power imbalance exists within the relationship (due to gender, age, or socio-economic status). Leaving such a relationship is especially challenging for those dependent on their partner for financial support.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior in any relationship that is used to gain power and control over an individual. This can include emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, or physical abuse.
Domestic violence can take many forms. It can involve tormenting you with insults and psychological abuse so that you feel inferior and have low self-esteem. It can also include refusing to let you have any independence, including controlling your finances and preventing you from getting a job.
Or it can involve force or threats of force so that you feel you have to obey your abusive partner and are too afraid to leave.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
In the quest to break free from an abusive relationship, the first crucial step is recognizing the signs of abuse. Abuse can take many forms, and it often hides behind closed doors, making it imperative to understand the subtle and not-so-subtle indicators.
1. Physical Abuse
- Hitting, slapping, punching, or any form of physical harm
- Forceful restraint or confinement against your will
- The use of objects or weapons to intimidate or hurt you
2. Emotional and Psychological Abuse
- Constant criticism, humiliation, or belittling.
- Manipulation and control tactics, such as gaslighting.
- Isolation from friends and family makes you feel alone and dependent.
- Threats, intimidation, or constant monitoring of your activities
3. Verbal Abuse
- Frequent yelling, screaming, or shouting
- Name-calling, insults, and demeaning language.
- Constantly undermining your self-esteem and self-worth.
4. Financial Abuse
- Controlling all financial resources leaves you with no access to money.
- Sabotaging your job or career opportunities.
- Forcing you to hand over your earnings or assets.
5. Sexual Abuse
- Non-consensual sexual acts or coercion.
- Withholding sex as a means of control
- Humiliating or degrading sexual comments or behavior
6. Social and Digital Abuse
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Monitoring your phone calls, texts, or online activity.
- Using social media to harass, threaten, or embarrass you
7. Threats and Intimidation
- Threats of physical harm to you, your loved ones, or pets.
- A pattern of intimidating behavior to make you comply with their wishes.
- Destruction of property as a means of control.
8. Unpredictable Mood Swings
- Drastic and unpredictable changes in the abuser’s mood or behavior
- Walking on eggshells to avoid triggering anger or violence
- The abuser consistently blames you for their actions or emotions.
- Avoiding responsibility for their abusive behavior.
10. Denial and Minimization
The abuser may deny the abuse or downplay its severity. – Making excuses for their actions, such as blaming stress or alcohol.
Financial Abuse in Abusive Relationships
Financial abuse can occur in any relationship, but it is a common form of abuse in abusive romantic relationships. Emotional and psychological abuse often accompanies financial abuse, and it can include preventing you from getting a job, controlling your spending, and taking your money without permission.
Financial abuse will negatively affect your self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence.
Financial abuse is also a way for an abuser to maintain control over you. This can be especially damaging if you are financially dependent on your abuser.
A Plan for leaving an Abusive Relationship with no Money
Be prepared, have an exit plan, and know what steps to take if you need to leave or can leave. There are many things to consider when preparing to leave your abusive husband or partner.
1. Be self-aware
Be honest with yourself and recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. In addition, be aware of what you’re willing to put up with in a relationship, and don’t tolerate anything that isn’t healthy.
Acknowledging that your relationship is abusive is important. I would recommend writing this down and maybe also including some of the behaviors of your abusive partner.
When you leave an abusive relationship, I found, that you forget some of the things that actually took place. Reading the notes that I had made gave me the strength and resilience to get through the difficult times after leaving my abusive relationship.
2. Support is Essential
Do you have emotional and financial support from family and friends to help you through this process?
Speak to a family member and a trusted friend and tell them what has been happening to you and what you have been experiencing.
You will need a support system during the initial period of leaving your abusive relationship, especially if you have children.
- You may need people to watch the children while you are busy with lawyers, looking for work, or seeking support for healing from abuse.
- If you are not financially independent, you will initially need financial support while you get back on your feet. Do not rely on receiving financial support from your soon-to-be ex-abusive partner.
Narcissistic abuse results in you being addicted to the cycle of abuse and you will need support to deal with the emotional pain and grief of leaving the relationship.
The loneliness and breaking free from the addiction, which can be equated to a drug addict coming clean, may often leave you feeling like you made a mistake and wanting to go back to the abusive relationship.
You will need friends and family around who will support you and give you the strength that you need to remain strong and resolute in your decision.
Join online support groups or talk to someone who has been through what you’re going through. Having support from others who have been through the same thing can help you get through difficult times.
3. Create a timeline for yourself.
Don’t wait until conditions get worse. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, leave before your partner’s abuse escalates.
The first step is to create a timeline for when it will be best for you to leave the abusive marriage safely and on your terms.
Timelines are great, especially if you find yourself giving your abusive partner repeated “second chances.” If they have not changed by a certain date, you need to have a firm line drawn in the sand that you stand by.
Without a line in the sand, you will end up believing what your heart wants you to believe and ignoring the facts.
This only prolongs the continued abuse. However, once you have decided to leave, you will still have to create a timeline so that you will be able to leave your abusive, narcissistic partner as smoothly as possible.
The most important thing is that the escape plan needs to be carefully planned to ensure your safety. The exit is the most dangerous time; as your abusive partner loses control over you, he will become more unpredictable.
This may seem cold and calculated, and it probably is, but believe me, having gone through this process myself, you will need to be very tactical in the exit of this dangerous situation to ensure that things go as planned.
The timeline will keep you on track and ensure that you focus on achieving your goal of being prepared!
4. Take care of yourself
Eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep so that you can stay healthy and be as strong as possible.
The abuse will not end the minute you walk out of the door. It continues long after you leave the abusive relationship, and a war of attrition begins. Your health and well-being are therefore important for the long game.
5. Visit a lawyer
Visit a lawyer so that you can learn about your legal rights regarding divorce, custody of children, and child support.
Get the best lawyer that you can afford, because taking on a narcissist is not going to be a simple divorce process.
Your abusive partner is going to try to turn the tables on you.
- They will attempt to get custody of the children not because they are better parents but as a way of hurting you
- They will lie to avoid maintenance payments at all costs, including hiding their assets and claiming poverty
- They may try to make out that you are insane and not fit to be a mother
- If they have been physically abusing you, they may even stoop as low as to say that you hurt yourself to get sympathy or that you got hurt while they were defending themselves from your attack. Crazy, but true!!
Ask your divorce attorney how to acquire a restraining order, especially if you are involved with a narcissist who is physically abusive.
You may need a court order to protect you and your children, and the protective order will be useful as it will ensure that he stays away from you.
Please be warned that lawyers can be very expensive, and the costs can mount very quickly. So check with the lawyer beforehand regarding costs, as this will avoid a nasty surprise when your legal bill arrives.
6. Prepare activities for when you go No Contact
Have you tried to end things in the past and changed your mind?
Were you overcome by feelings of loneliness?
Did you struggle with the pain and grief of leaving your abusive partner?
This time around, make sure that you have a plan that will prevent this from happening again.
You could include some of the following in your new life to ensure that you do not go back to what broke you:
Start planning activities now, if possible, as this will make the transition easier.
Once you leave your abusive partner, you can consider doing some of the following activities as a way of ensuring that you maintain your no-contact policy:
- Keep busy and change your schedule so that you create different routines for yourself that are not filled with reminders of your ex.
- If you feel like you are in turmoil and have made a mistake, leave your children, if you have any, with family and book yourself into rehab. Here, your abusive partner will not be able to contact you, and you will have a chance to rest and indulge in self-care and trauma therapies. You will have the headspace to think about what you want in your life while in a protected environment.
- You could see a therapist who will be able to prescribe you medication to help you sleep and deal with the initial anxiety.
- Plan to go on holiday if you have the finances available, where you will be able to rest and get away from your usual routine and reminders. This will limit any temptation to contact your ex-narcissistic partner.
- Find hobbies that you are interested in but have never had the opportunity to participate in.
- Sleep, your body, and mind will be exhausted, and will need time to sleep and recover
- Take a course and reskill yourself
- Spend more time on yourself
7. Save Money
Are you able to put aside a certain amount of money each month?
Are you financially independent?
While you are still with your abusive partner, save money at every opportunity, as this will be a valuable source of funds when you initially leave. Unfortunately, abusive relationships normally include financial control, which may make saving money difficult.
Try to gather information regarding family financial matters, as this information will be important during the divorce. However, if you have your own money, leaving your abusive relationship will be much easier.
8. When you leave where will you live?
Will you be able to initially stay with family, as this will be safer and less costly?
Will you have to remain in the same area due to the children’s schools?
Will you be able to move states for a fresh start?
These are all things to consider. Look for affordable homes to rent in suitable areas that will provide you with convenience and safety.
If you plan to move states or countries, do you have the necessary paperwork to move children? This should be investigated, as some countries have strict travel restrictions requiring both parents’ permission for the children to travel.
Will you need to move into a local shelter? If so, make a list of the phone numbers and contact them to gather information on the procedure that needs to be followed should you need to stay at the shelter.
9. Protect yourself
When your abusive partner realizes that you are not returning, regardless of how much hoovering they attempt, they can become unpredictable.
If you are dealing with a violent relationship dynamic, then please apply for a restraining order. This will at least keep them temporarily away from you and your children until things settle down.
You should also notify your children’s schools that you have left the marriage, that you are filing for divorce, and that your husband is abusive. Let the school know that you have a restraining order (if you have one).
If you are the primary caregiver of the children, the school should not allow the children to leave the school with anyone other than you or someone that you designate.
Abusive partners, as we have discussed, are unpredictable, and they will do anything to punish you for leaving them, including trying to snatch the children from you.
If you are experiencing physical abuse, it may also be a good idea to contact your local domestic violence shelter, as they will be best equipped to help you.
Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline; they can advise you on how to protect yourself and your children in accordance with the rules and regulations of the area that you live in.
10. Gather all important legal documentation
Your preparation needs to include gathering important legal documentation. Ensure that you have the original or at least certified copies of all legal documentation pertaining to you and the children. The important documents that you should focus on gathering should include:
- Bank statements
- Joint bank accounts
- Motor vehicle insurance
- Mortgage Bond
- Insurance policies
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificate
- Social security card
- Your bank account details
- Medical insurance details
- Children’s school reports
Gather together all sentimental photographs that you would like to take with you and items that are important to you.
Scanning certain items that you are not able to take with you is also a good idea.
11. Open new bank accounts
Open new bank accounts for yourself so that you are prepared from day one to function independently. It is also advisable, as your narcissist will have no knowledge of these accounts.
Cancel all credit cards that are in your name so that your abusive partner does not go on a spending spree and blow your credit score.
12. The need to travel
When you leave your soon-to-be ex-abusive partner, will you need to travel?
If you do, then you should prepare the routes and plan the best means of travel and the costs involved.
You will need to budget for these costs and ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork.
13. Put together a survival bag
You should put together a survival bag that can be used in case of immediate danger and you have to leave in a hurry. Please make sure that your abusive partner cannot find it.
Have a code word set up with a trusted family member or friend to let them know that you are in immediate danger and need to leave.
How will you handle the backlash that goes hand in hand with leaving a narcissist or abusive partner?
They unfortunately have very fragile egos and will start a smear campaign soon after you leave. The aim of the campaign is to try to isolate you while protecting their social image. Abusive partners usually have a hard time letting go quietly.
Things to consider:
- How will you handle it if your ex calls your job and complains to your boss?
- What will you do if your ex annoys your family and friends?
- Are you prepared to handle gossip and rumors after the breakup?
- Are you prepared to initially deactivate your social media accounts?
It’s important to keep a level head and not seek revenge as a response to any smear campaign, as this will only make things worse.
Instead, figure out how to protect yourself emotionally and legally.
Block your soon-to-be ex on all forms of social media and place settings on platforms like Facebook that prevent them from tagging you in posts.
The Dilemma of Leaving an Abusive Relationship with No Money
If you are in an abusive relationship, just remember that you are not alone. Many women have gone through such situations and have come out stronger than before. However, many of them have also remained trapped due to financial constraints.
You might think that staying in an abusive marriage is better than being without any money in the world.
But trust us, it’s not! Staying in an abusive marriage means that you are being tormented more now than ever before. It is important to plan and get out of this relationship as soon as possible for your own safety, health, and sanity.
However, if you don’t have much money, getting out of the relationship can be very difficult, but not impossible.
Be prepared for the hardship and focus on making it work for you and your children.
You may not have the resources to afford a place to stay, and you may also have a job that doesn’t pay very well and doesn’t allow you to save money.
If you have no money and nowhere to turn, consider contacting a domestic violence shelter. These organizations are available to help women transition out of abusive relationships and provide them with safe and affordable housing.
Although domestic violence shelters are there to help, they typically only offer short-term assistance, and some have very strict rules regarding who they allow to stay.
Create a Plan to exit an Abusive Relationship
Regaining your financial independence is essential for your freedom. Do not rely on getting child support from an abusive ex-partner. The aim of not paying child support is to cause you more pain and hardship. But we are all in this together, so don’t give up.
Get prepared to work again
Start off by answering the following questions, as they will assist you in determining what direction is best for you.
- Are you easily able to upskill yourself to earn more money?
- Upskilling will provide you with opportunities to earn more money and focus on providing for yourself and your children.
- What new skills would you be interested in acquiring?
- How can this be achieved? Can you learn new skills that you are interested in online?
- What job opportunities are available to you?
- When last did you work, and what experience do you have?
- Do you have a CV? If not, maybe spend time setting up your CV.
- Are you computer literate?
- What online jobs could you do?
- Is there an on-the-job training facility available where you live?
Frequently asked questions
1. Is it possible to leave an abusive relationship with no money?
Yes, it is possible to leave an abusive relationship even if you have limited financial resources. There are various resources, organizations, and strategies available to help you navigate this challenging situation.
2. How can I ensure my safety when leaving an abusive relationship with no money?
Prioritize your safety above all else. Reach out to a local domestic violence shelter or hotline for immediate support and guidance. Create a safety plan, inform trusted friends or family members about your situation, and consider obtaining a restraining order if necessary.
3. What financial resources are available for individuals leaving an abusive relationship?
Several resources are available, such as government assistance programs, non-profit organizations, and shelters that can provide temporary housing and financial assistance. Look into programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and local charities for support.
4. How can I find housing if I have no money to secure a place of my own?
Explore options like staying with friends or family temporarily, reaching out to domestic violence shelters, or seeking assistance from housing agencies. Many organizations provide emergency housing for survivors of abuse.
5. Can I access legal help without funds to leave my abusive partner?
Yes, you can access legal help even if you have limited financial resources. Contact your local legal aid society or domestic violence advocacy organizations, which often offer free or low-cost legal services to survivors of abuse.
6. How can I rebuild my life after leaving an abusive relationship with no money?
Rebuilding your life will take time and effort, but it is possible. Start by securing a stable source of income, accessing counseling or therapy, and connecting with support groups for survivors. Create a budget to manage your finances wisely, and seek education or job training opportunities to improve your financial independence over time.
It is important to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and know how to get out of one.
Financial abuse can be a common factor in abusive romantic relationships, and it can make it especially difficult to leave. If you are in a relationship with an abusive partner, it is important to be prepared to leave sooner rather than later.
You may need to save up some money, and get support from others who have been through the same thing.
If you’re in an abusive relationship and don’t have any money, it’s important to know that help is available. It may be difficult to leave an abusive relationship with no money, but with a plan, I know you can do it.